An Atlanta home from which people were removed. (Credit: Kelly Jordan)

By Sean Keenan

Thousands of Atlantans feeling the strain of the coronavirus pandemic could get help paying rent, utility bills or security deposits, thanks to a new partnership with United Way of Greater Atlanta.

On Thursday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced $22 million from the city’s Coronavirus Relief Fund would fuel the new assistance program. Officials expect it to benefit upwards of 6,700 residents, according to a press release.

Households impacted by the mounting public health crisis can claim up to $3,000 each.

United Way of Greater Atlanta CEO Milton J. Little, Jr. said in a prepared statement that up to 16,000 households within the city limits pull in less than $50,000 annually and work jobs that are at a high risk of layoffs because of the economic fallout from COVID-19. These are the folks the program seeks to serve.

The news comes as the nation finds itself on the cusp of what Atlanta’s chief housing officer Terri Lee called a “tsunami” of evictions prompted by the pandemic.

Statewide, some 182,000 rental households were unable to pay rent and at risk of being evicted as of late July, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

The LSC data suggests estimates combating that swell of displacement in Georgia in court could cost more than $90 million.

Thankfully for many, the Magistrate Court of Fulton County recently opted to delay all in-person eviction hearings until November, meaning people who don’t consent to dealing with those proceedings via Zoom call are afforded some breathing room.

Before that, too, Mayor Bottoms effected a moratorium on residential evictions and eviction filings until the end of this month.

(Header image by Kelly Jordan)

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